Today, I’m bringing you a simple tip to make layer-cakes a bit easier – and it’s easy enough that I’m going to have my three year old show you how it’s done.
Now the first tip I’m going to give you comes before you need to actually cut the cakes. I always cook my cakes at 325F.
I don’t care what the recipe says, I cook cupcakes at 375F to get that perfect “domed” effect and I cook cakes at 325F to get a flat, even layer. I’ve never had a cake turn out badly using this rule of thumb. Whenever I cook a cake at 350F or 375F, I end up getting a giant dome that I just have to trim off anyways – which is fine for a single layer cake or even the top layer of a layer cake, but it’s not great for making an even layer cake.
Another reason for this lower baking temperature is because you generally want a layer cake to be a bit more dense – because if it’s too light, it can cave in under the weight of the other layers or even the frosting! Baking the cakes at a lower temperature makes them slightly denser, but most guests wouldn’t even notice! (If you want super light, crumbly cakes – like an angel food cake, stick to cupcakes or bundt cakes – or at least don’t try to make more than two layers out of a super light cake.)
Even with baking the cakes at a lower temperature to reduce the “dome effect,” bit of trimming is always necessary with a layer cake because even the slightest bump or uneven layer can cause the whole cake to go lopsided! (And after having a cake completely fall over during a party one time, I am very careful not to let that happen again!)
How to Cut a Cake with Dental Floss
You’re going to need:
- 8 toothpicks per layer
- Dental (tooth) floss
- Serrated knife
Yup, dental floss – it doesn’t matter if it’s waxed or unwaxed, but for the love of cake – be sure you don’t grab the flavored dental floss! No one wants traces of dental mint on their birthday cake. (Unless you’re serving a mint cake, then by all means – have at it!)
Use something flat to help you insert toothpicks at the same height, all around your cake. Since we did a mini layer cake, we used a large (clean) popsicle stick – about the size of a tongue depressor. A ruler would have worked just as well.
Next, loop dental floss around the cake, underneath the toothpicks.
Cross the dental floss over at the ends so that the floss around the left side of the cake is in your right hand, and the floss that loops around the right side of the cake is in your left hand (criss crossed).
Pull up to ensure that the floss is evenly against the toothpicks and then pull your hands towards your sides, straight away from the cake – like you are forming a giant triangle. At first the floss will seem to “cinch” the cake (it will pucker temporarily) but it will smoothly glide through the cake, leaving you perfect even layers.
I usually don’t need to trim this cake at all after using this method – but if for some reason you placed the toothpicks slightly unevenly, you can carefully trim off bit by bit with a serated bread knife.
If you didn’t firmly insert your toothpicks, you may just pull the toothpicks out and not actually cut the cake. You can re-try this cake cutting method by placing the toothpicks in new spots, and ensuring that they are well-inserted and not too close to the top of the cake.
After trying the dental floss cake cutting method, you’ll never try another way!
Guests in my home probably think it’s weird that I keep a box of dental floss in my baking cupboard, but those in the know will get it.
What’s your best – or weirdest – kitchen tip?